Water Mosaic echoes from home

pondering the mysteries, simplicity, and humor of life

Wednesday, August 31, 2005


Before I begin with my daily update, I would like to issue an apology to my in-laws. Monday night my mother, father, and grandmother-in-law generously drove 90 miles to visit their daughter and son-in-law for a birthday party. Gina, my mother-in-law, was turning the big 50 and my wife wanted to make a special dinner for them. She even broke out the fancy glasses and cloth napkins. Ooo la la. I was glad they were coming, but Monday was a horrible day. I won’t go into the details of it, but it just sucked. Not only that, I was feeling a little depressed from all the health issues my family is trying to wade through. So needless to say, I was in a crabby mood all night. If I could go back in time, I would have acted totally different. For some selfish reason, I wanted to reflect my crappy day onto everyone else. I think I was like “Debbie Downer” trying to make everyone feel sorry for me in the midst of such celebration and joy. So Gina, Terry, June, and my lovely wife…I’m sorry. Sorry I was a sulking cotton-headed ninimuggens. Forgive me.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

A Letter to My Granddad

Happy Birthday Granddad! It’s an honor to say that, especially after a vigorous 92 years you have lived on this earth. I don’t know if you’ll remember that it is your birthday today, but that’s ok because I forgot mom’s birthday this year. So I guess we’re even.

In the 25 years that I’ve known you, I couldn’t ask for a better role model. You’ve been married for 66 years now, just in case you forgot. Every time I’m around you, you speak of grandmother in such a loving way. You’ll still have that shine in your eye when you mention your wife like it was the first time you feel in love. “That sure is a pretty girl over there,” you’ll say as you watch grandmother working hard in the kitchen or just sitting in her favorite chair. You have a dedication that I admire, not only to your wife, but also to living.

You were a Sunday School teacher for 20 plus years and I know those people revered you and respected your wisdom and humor. I could tell. Plus you were an amazing storyteller. I think I will go to my grave never knowing what happened to your partially cut off finger. And in a way that’s the way I want it to be. You told us stories of meeting your future wife, working at Nabisco, fishing, playing golf, hitchhiking, college, living in England, visiting almost every continent and all 50 states, and the war. Even if we had heard the stories before you could still craft them in a way to paint a beautiful landscape of your life; the humor, the reality, the simplicity of it all made you feel warm as if sitting besides a fire during a soft December evening.

You had a patient peace about you, one that I recognized at an early age as we would sit on the dock and cast our lures into the calm waters hoping to catch “the big one.” You were a gracious man, always caring for others and helping those that needed it. I remember when I didn’t have a job for a summer and you helped me get a mowing business going at the lake. You would even help me weed eat at times even in the blazing summer heat.

As I write this letter I realized I have described you in the past tense. Forgive me. You are still a patient man. You are still a great storyteller. You are still a devoted husband. You are still someone whom people revere and respect. You are still a man who is full of wisdom and humor. I apologize for that. I guess I know that you are not the same man you were, at least in the sense of your memory. And that makes me feel heavy. I cried the other night knowing that you didn’t remember your anniversary and knowing that you might not remember your birthday. I wanted to blame someone or something but it was to no avail. I remember seeing my other granddad (Granddaddy C) in the retirement home and him not being able to remember who I was. It broke my heart. It still does. Not that he couldn’t remember my name, but that the fullness of life that was in him and is in you has somewhat slipped through our weakening clutches. We want to preserve people we know and love, framing them in a picture that will never fade or be etched out of our memories. I guess it’s the fear of facing our own humanity. Maybe that is why I cried in Jennifer’s arms for so long that night. I believe that death is not the end of the story. I really do. But I just want to live in the memory of what used for a little while longer. I love you granddad.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Lacking Words

By then I wasn’t just asking questions; I was being changed by them. I was being changed by my prayers, which dwindled down nearer and nearer to silence, which weren’t confrontations with God but with the difficulty – in my own mind, or in the human lot – of knowing what or how to pray. (p. 52)

Wendell Berry captures my thoughts completely here in this tiny segment from his novel, Jayber Crow. My prayers, for the past year now, have been whittled down into sheer silence. Has this been accidental? I’m to the realization now that it has not been an accident. I used to spill my heart out to God in words and phrases that felt like they moved beyond the breath that eased out of my mouth. Now I sit in silence, almost in bewilderment, and the words don’t seem to surface. It’s not that I feel lonely or lost in my mystical relationship with the Creator. Rather, my words have no form, at least in the audible sense.

Do I ever pray aloud? Sure. At work sometimes they’ll ask me to lead a prayer before the day’s activities. I don’t mind although I find the words that were once easy to say hard to come by. The only prayer that I can seem to speak is the Lord’s Prayer (Our Father how art in heaven….). It is beyond me to comprehend why this transformation has occurred. In the past, my guilt would be produced from knowing that I wasn’t “praying” like I used to. I’m past that now. I accept the fact that silence comforts me more than hearing my own voice.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

My Encounter with Donald Miller

I’m a big dork.

Yesterday was an extremely long day. I go to work all day (8 to 4:30, not to mention waking up at 5:30) and then hang around Nashville until 7 when my class starts and then leave class at 10 while arriving home at 11. Ugghhh. During my break between work and class I sat on Lipscomb’s campus and read some of Wendell Berry’s Jayber Crow. Excellent read. All of a sudden I see this guy that looks vaguely familiar. The closer he gets the more I recognize the guy.

Flashback to Monday night: Jennifer and I had to wonderful pleasure of attending Romeo, Juliet and Jesus, an evening with Donald Miller at Otter Creek (author of Blue Like Jazz). It was a packed house like I thought it would be. He’s talk was mainly pulled from his last book Searching for God Knows What. I read this last year and wasn’t too impressed by it, to be honest. It was hard to top Blue Like Jazz, even though the story of Santa not washing his hands in the mall after using the potty was quite hilarious. After about an hour or so, the audience was allowed to ask a question to Donald. I wanted to ask a question but I think it was just because I could say, “I have talked to Donald Miller.” I guess to impress people. Again, I’m a dork. Well my wife was trying to get me to go up to the mic and ask my question, but I chickened out knowing that my motivation was purely out of pride. Not only did I want to ask him a relevant question, I really wanted to see if he got my CD’s I sent him.

Flashback to last November: Some colleagues of mine were traveling to Atlanta to attend the Ivy Jungle Conference. Miller was going to be teaching an Early Bird Course at the Conference and my friend Dean was signed up to be in that class. I had finished both of Miller’s books and really want to write him a letter. Dork. Not only did I write a letter, I copied a live show from a Wilco concert I had been to because I knew he enjoys their music (writes about them in Blue Like Jazz). Super Dork. Before Dean left I put the letter and the two CDs into an envelope and asked him to give it to Don. Dean came back from Ivy Jungle and completed his mission successfully.

Flash-forward to Monday night: While I was really contemplating on asking my question, I also wanted to ask Don if he received those CDs. In my mind I see the conversation going like this:

Me: Hey Don. I’m the guy that gave you those Wilco CDs back at Ivy Jungle.
Don: YEAH!! (very enthusiastically) Dude those CDs are awesome. I actually listened to them while on the plane to Nashville.
Me: Awesome! Glad you enjoyed it.
Don: I sure did. Hey what are you doing later? You wanna hang out after this?
(This would of course thrust me into extreme euphoria and to the demise of the rest of the audience for being super cool. Mmmmmahahahahaha)

Flash-forward to Yesterday or are we flashbacking here? Anyway, the guy whom I recognize (beginning of the story) is in fact Mr. Miller. I’m sure I kept eyeing him until he felt uncomfortable, but I wasn’t going to back down from this opportunity. So I get up from the swing I was on and say:

Me: Are you Donald Miller?
Don: Yeah.
(introductions and hands shake)
Me: I heard you last night at Otter Creek. Good stuff.
Don: Thanks.
Me: I’m the guy that sent you those Wilco CDs during Ivy Jungle.
Don: Huh? You don’t look familiar.
Me: Well I wasn’t at Ivy Jungle, but had a friend who was there give them to you.
Don: Really? I…..don’t remember ever getting them.
Me: Really?
Don: Yeah, I have the demo’s from Yankee Hotel Foxtrot that someone gave me.
Me: Yeah with the instrumentals and different versions.
Don: Yeah.
Me: I have that CD. But I sent you a 2-disc concert show in Atlanta.
Don: Well….I never received that.
Me: Huh? Oh well. I just knew you enjoyed them so I thought, what the heck.
Don: Well…thanks.
Me: Anyway, good to meet you.
Don:You too. What’s your name again?

I’m sure he was asking my name again so he could be aware that a guy named Clark stalks him somewhat. “Huh authorities? Yes this is Donald Miller. Be on the lookout for a really tall blonde-headed guy who will not leave me alone.” I went to class and found out that he was about to speak in front of Lipscomb and visitors. I’m sure he gave me a shout out during his talk. “If you guys know a Clark, then please call the cops.” Have I said how much of a dork I am?

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

OK, this is just plain weird

Pat Robertson, on his 700 Club program Monday, suggested that America should just "take out" Venezulean President Hugo Chavez in fear of his country "becoming a launching pad for communist inflitration and Muslim extremism." ("take out" apparently is Pat's term for assassinate)

"We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator," he continued. "It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with."

I think Pat's been playing too much Splinter Cell on his Xbox, or maybe he has been watching Rambo movies over and over. Wow! Well done Pat. Keep making our "Christian Nation" America the CEO of Assassinators For Hirer Club.

(hattip: Greg)

Monday, August 22, 2005

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Vacation was incredible! Slept in, went fishing, read, played in the ocean, ate lots of seafood, napped. It was just what my wife and I needed.

Thanks to all that gave book recommendations several weeks ago. I will definitely keep those in mind for the future. Since I’m about to start another biblical class this semester, I wanted to take a break from books that make me think too much. Instead I dove into two books, both I’d recommend to you, but one much more over the other. The first was David Sedaris’ book Dress Your Family Up in Corduroy and Denim. Hilarious! I laughed out loud at his poignant storytelling of family life in the Sedaris household. Can’t wait to read his others.

The book that was amazing was a new novel called Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer. I’m not big on fiction, but Mr. Foer crafts such a tale that I’m rethinking reading more fictional literature, especially his first book. Be warned: this book is not light on subject matter. It had probably more weight than any theological book I’ve read in a long while. Foer deals with tragedy and the heaviness of living in a broken world, especially for a child who lost their dad in 9/11. I want to read it again, yet I don’t because I want to preserve the emotions and feelings that arose within me during my readings. So check it out.

Monday, August 15, 2005

St. George Island

St. George Island

Peace at last. As of tomorrow, I am on vacation to the beautiful and peaceful St. George Island. I'll be hanging with my in-laws, my twin brother-in-laws, and my lovely wife for a week in sunny Florida. Since I work in front of a PC all day, I will be taking a blogging Sabatical of sorts until next week. So for those out there that actually read this (mom, dad, grandmom, occasional google people) hope this week treats you well. Adios.

Scared Architecture 2

Last week I discussed the value of architecture in creating scared space, whether public or private. In my last post, the extremely artistic Poems and Writings, stated the fact that all our efforts must not be geared towards the outside, rather the focus should be directed towards the inside. While I agree with her insightful remark, I can’t help but wonder how architecture aids us in creating a holy space in our surroundings. It seems as if modernity has striped buildings, especially churches, of their historical aesthetics and mystery. Michael DeSanctis, a professor of fine arts at Gannon University, said that great architecture has always been ‘modern,’ both responding to and challenging the cultures that produce it. If DeSanctis is correct here, then what we need is not a nostalgic need for historical styles of building landscapes. Rather we could accept what the Catholic Church calls, ‘noble simplicity’ which appreciates “the workings of ritual action, for symbol, poetry and art – those things that nourish the soul, keep the heart supple, and point us beyond ourselves.” In doing so, architecture can promote authenticity, beauty, and holiness.

To see some Sacred Spaces in my area (Nashville) follow this LINK.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Sacred Architecture

Most modern churches look like they were built by robots without reference to the heritage of church architecture or respect for the place; they embody no awareness that work can be worship.

I've been reading Wendell Berry's essay "Christianity and the Survival of Creation" during my lunch breaks and bathroom visits. It has been rather encouraging and poetic to read from a simple farmer in Kentucky describing the need for art and work in our lives. (those terms are not what I thought they meant) The above quote made me reminisce about my first few years in college. Not college life per say, but the year and a half I spent in my dorm, the architecture building, and everywhere else in between creating and re-imagining structures, plans and ideas. It was fun, yet challenging especially my first year into the program. One of my first classes that introduced me into the world of architecture was architectural history. Just to give you an idea of how incredibly hard this class was, we studied for our test by looking at slide show slides in their actual size through a glass window, while about 30 other students looked on. That was our reference for the Renaissance columns to flying buttresses of the Baroque period. Most of the structures we observed were cathedrals along with public buildings and judicial courthouses of such.

If you have ever been to Europe or outside of the US, you'll probably notice these large massive cathedrals jetting out from the skyline. Not only do they look rather lonesome stretching toward the heavens, inside its the same story: empty and hollow.
Even though I'm not suggesting we rebuild all our buildings, especially churches to re-conform back to our rich heritage of architecture, but I think there is room to speak of scared space in our meeting places. Whether a religious place such as a church or synagogue, or a public place like a urban cafe, I think value and holiness can be found in the angles and designs of our structures residing in the land.

More thoughts to come later. Yours?

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Wendell Berry on Dualism

“Dualism manifests itself in several ways: as a cleavage, a radical discontinuity, between Creator and creature, spirit and matter, religion and nature, religion and economy, worship and work, and so on. This dualism, I think, is the most destructive disease that afflicts us. In its best known, its most dangerous, and perhaps its fundamental version, it is the dualism of body and soul. This is an issue as difficult as it is important, and so to deal with it we should start at the beginning. The crucial test is probably Genesis 2:7, which gives the process by which Adam was created. “The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed in to his nostrils the breath of life: and man became a living soul.” The formula given in Genesis 2:7 is not man = body + soul; the formula there is soul = dust + breathe. According to this verse, God did not make a body and put a soul into it, like a letter into an envelope. He formed man of dust; then, by breathing His breath into it, He made the dust live. ‘Soul’ here refers to the whole creature. Humanity is thus presented to us, in Adam, not as a creature of two discrete parts temporarily glue together but as a single mystery.”

Thus, as Berry continues, we can make a duality of our one living soul by disassociating with the breath of God as our common bond with one another and with other creatures. More over, we can create duality in disowning the dust element of each one. Our bodies and this earth are not to be abused or neglected because of the forthcoming eternal bliss called heaven. By no means. Heaven is not a warehouse of “souls” disembodied from our flesh and bones. “But to despise the body or mistreat it for the sake of the ‘soul’ is not just to burn one’s house for the insurance, nor is it just self-hatred of the most deep and dangerous sorts. It is yet another blasphemy.”

from Berry's essay "Christianity and the Survival of Creation"

Donald Miller

I love my wife. We’re about to take a week vacation to Florida with her family next week. I need a break from work and just life around Middle Tennessee. The Monday after we get back, we were going to attend a function at her school. At least, that is what was scheduled. She wasn’t excited about it and neither was I seeing as how we were “required” to attend, more her than me. Most of the teachers from the school she teaches at would be there along with their significant other. Needless to say, we were not looking forward to it.

Before I knew about this exciting evening, I had been planning on us hearing Donald Miller speak that same night. Well after I got the free tickets (thanks Phil), my wife told me about the function at her school. I was bummed. Last night she surprised me by telling me that she wanted us to go hear Don and not go to the “required” school meeting. Elated described how I felt. So August 22nd my wife and I will be sitting in Otter Creek Church hearing Blue Like Jazz author Donald Miller. Thanks Jennifer.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Fire Drill

I'm used to posting in the morning time, especially when I arrive to work early. As I was getting out of my car I noticed everyone in the building was pouring out. "Alright! I get to go home early," I thought. Yeah right. We had another fire alarm go off in the building. The perpetrator? VBS cookies.

So in the event of me getting to work on time and work making me do 3 people's job while getting paid for one person's work load, I only have time to post links of things that interest me, and hopefully you too.

LINK of an article about emerging church in the Philadelphia Inquirer

Monday, August 08, 2005

The Message Thing

I hate blogger. He ate my post.

If you haven't read this op-ed piece by Jim Wallis that appeared in the New York Times last week, then have a look see. Go here

Friday, August 05, 2005

Race in the Emerging Church

It was from the most unlikely individual that the Nashville Emergent Cohort heard from yesterday about race in our current context. Before discussing race and race relations in our quaint setting at the Flying Saucer, we watched Dave Chappell and his interpretation of President Bush. The 5-minute clip was not only boisterous but also hilarious. Beyond the fact that Chappell was cracking us up, he was opening our worldview to seeing race in a whole new way. As ridiculous as Black Bush seemed to us white folks, it made us imagine how ridiculous White Bush is to many black folks.

From there we spoke mainly about church matters when it comes to this delicate issue. Many weighed in their thoughts, opinions, and convictions on the matter, most of which were helpful for me. Basically we started by asking the question, “What is our current context within our churches, lives, occupation, etc?” I must add that we didn’t focus just on the issue of black and white or Hispanic and white, but of overall class and socioeconomic boundaries that exclude and are neglected by the majority. By understanding our context, we can then ask ourselves if our communities are diverse or homogeneous.

First I think it’s important to distinguish what diverse means regarding the church context. It’s easy to announce to the body, “We need to be more diverse.” If one is involved with an all white or all black or all whatever congregation, hopefully they already are diverse. Sure the people might look the same color, but I’m willing to bet you have people that scatter the diverse economic scale of society. Regardless, if our community (not churches) is a colorful patchwork quilt, then one wonders why churches can’t be the same. We can all shop at the same mall, buy gas at the same station, and eat at the same restaurants, so why can’t this sociological fact be a reality in churches. Back to our meaning of diversity: While we recognize that diversity lies beyond the color realm, we can also say that just having different shades of people in one room isn’t true diversity. Saying you want to be diverse and include other races in church can be like saying, “We can all be diverse and unified enough to sit on the same toilet, but we will still worship or do things the Westernized Anglo way.” Is that true diversity? How can we celebrate our different histories, traditions, rituals, and cultural understandings if we are “doing church” in the colonized-Western style led by a baby booming white staff? What gifts from other races, classes, etc. can we include in our understanding of being church? What are we willing to give up in response to embracing some of these gifts? So you have a Hispanic minister or Inner-City minister on staff. Is that true diversity? Isn’t that just reaching a certain demographic that we white folks are too afraid to venture out among? And isn’t that certain demographic excluded from the main body?

Please read this coming through the eyes of a middle class Southern Protestant young white kid (such a hybrid are we all). I assume, like others said yesterday, the posture we must take is that of a servant. Jesus was a pretty good model, I’d say (understatement). We must reinforce that even though our “neighbor” (not geographical mind you) might not be inside our walls on Sunday, we should still be good servants to them and their communities.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

My TBN Obsession

I have a dirty confession to make. I’ve hid this for so long and yet I feel the need to come clean. Forgive me if this offense anyone, but I can’t withhold it any more.

I watch TBN.

That’s right. Trinity Broadcast Network, you know the one with Benny Hinn and TD Jakes and the poofy haired lady. I don't watch it all the time of course, but there are days when I start watching something and find myself enthralled in the program. I’ve mentioned this secret before when I wrote about Kirk Cameron’s late night show. Well yesterday during commercials of King of the Hill, I wanted to fulfill my curious nature by seeing what was happening on TBN. So I tuned in to see a white preacher lady sitting around 5 African American males. For the next 10 minutes I was drawn into their discussion and before I knew it, the credits were rolling on King of the Hill. So why was my attention attracted to TBN’s program that day? Let me explain.

The white preacher lady was named Paula. She was dressed very nicely and listening attentively to this scholarly black gentleman as he was describing how faith works and we can’t detect God with our senses. Or something like that. What kept me listening was Kirk Franklin. If you don’t know who Kirk is, he is a gospel musician. I don’t really like contemporary Christian music and to be honest, I didn’t like Kirk’s mainstream hit, “GP Are You With Me?” But he was a familiar face on the screen so I wanted to see what he had to say. Kirk was speaking about mega-churches and how he doesn’t see mega-Christians come from those institutions. His quote that perked my interest was: “We got mega-churches, but where are the mega-Christians? Where is Jesus in the work place; Jesus in the marriage; Jesus at school; Jesus in the ghetto?” Now I’m not, and I don’t think Kirk was trying to say, “No more mega-churches” although I’m uncomfortable with them. I understood his point about how mega-churches can warehouse praiseful people yet distribute people who don’t know what Jesus looks like outside of those walls.

After Kirk was finished, several other brothers decided to weigh in their opinions or discuss something totally different. I’m not really sure what the other people were saying because they were using large words that I couldn’t follow. I think basically they were speaking about the majesty of God or having a revelation from the word (word being the Bible not Christ, I think). Anyway, Kirk chimed in again and said, “The problem is brother, those folks in the hood, Tyrone and LaQuisha, and most in our churches don’t understand the language you’re using.” It seemed as though this guy was pulling words out that made him sound enlightened, but all it did was turn me off…and confuse the mess out of me. Not only that, you could tell these finely dressed preacher folks were smooth talkers and had rhyming catch phrases that made people in the audience scream and holler. Yet Kirk was not a talented speaker. His voice cracked, he stuttered at times, and his thoughts were not all presentable in a slick point-by-point presentation. He spoke about discipleship and authenticity, even saying that from age 9 to 27 he was addicted to pornography. You could hear a pin drop when he said the “p” word. He was real to me. He wasn’t trying to impress me or persuade me, he was just trying to say how there are too many Sunday Christians in the world.

Maybe those TV-Evangelists can teach me something about the glory of God or the majesty surrounding the Almighty YHWH. Even so, I can’t help but wonder if talking in “sophisticated rhymes” is helping people live lives oriented towards the Kingdom. I’m sure that they are doing good work; at least that is what I want to believe, instead of hearing that they are just money hungry preachers preaching a gospel of “health and wealth.” I hope that more people hear what Kirk is trying to say. I hope.

Rambo's Offical Shirt

Funny shirts on this site.


I think the guy below needs to cover up with one of these.


Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The Significance of Eschatology

*Warning* Theological Musing Ahead *Warning*
Our triune God has displayed his presence, mercy and grace in the formation of the world, the events of the crisis, Israel’s history, the voices of the prophets and poets, the Messiah’s life and death, the outpouring of the Spirit, and then continuum of God’s agents in the world (the church). We have witnessed a story that is beautiful and rich with history and meaning. But our story is not finished. It is on a trajectory to continue towards the final fulfillment of God’s Kingdom. In a sense God has been calling the story (history even) as well as his people forward into the future to embrace each other and God’s ultimate dream for this world.

In reading Scripture, most of the authors speak about the movement of history towards the eschaton (end times). From Isaiah’s prophetic voice announcing that the lamb will lie down with the lion and swords beaten to plowshares to the ‘renewal of all things’ language of Paul, we can see that history has a purpose and a goal to which it is moving towards. Some may boil the eschaton down to the ambiguous writings of John in his vision Revelation. While this letter has rich metaphors and a deeply convicting message, we should be wary of our curiosity to look for ‘the signs of the end times.’ Not that our curiosity should be stifled in anyway in re-imagining the eschaton motif, but our efforts should focus on the coming of God in the here and now. To further explain this idea we look to the language of the “old age” and the “new age” in the New Testament. Until Christ’s entrance into the world, the old age had been moving along just fine from the beginning of the crisis in our story. Even though creation was still considered good, it was deeply wounded by harmful activity such as shame, hate, violence, selfishness and a host of other viruses that still plague the human race. As we saw in the creation narrative, God created all things with room to grow and progress towards its initial eschatological goal. God stepped into history as a person and ushered in a “new age,” one that would look totally different from the present aeon. And so from that time on, Jesus showed people how to be human in the new age (intended humanity), and what ethics constitute as Kingdom living. Jesus was himself the eschatological human, one that all would hopefully emulate and practice living such as he did. Moreover, the forming of the body of Christ, not to mention the pouring of the Spirit, was intended to be the foretaste of the eschatology. The ethics and activities of the church flow from its identity in the new age.

The implications of the eschaton to our church are unfathomable. Besides having our theology entrenched in the idea of eschatology, our lives should be oriented towards God’s dream. Jesus prayed for God’s Kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven. We would do well to follow his example. Our attitude concerning the ‘end times’ should avoid the pop-culture’s view of the rapture where we hope we aren’t left behind and face the antichrist from the Middle East named Nicholas. Let us be mindful of what Peter said, “We wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home.” Since God will refine all things on earth, we should view the things around us as redeemable and worthy of our attention (i.e. environment, poverty, economics). God will bring about the Kingdom on his time, but in the meantime we are agents of this eschatological presence in the here and now. May we embrace creation and all that are in it and live out God’s telos, inviting all along our journey.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Sufjan in Nashville

Yesterday I bought tickets to see Sufjan Stevens at the Mercy Lounge on September 23rd. I'm really excited about this show, mainly because his music is very ingenuitive and smart. His new album is called Illinois and is an entire record about.....the state of Illinois. Sufjan is trying to make a record about all 50 states; so far is has Michigan and now Illinois covered. I hope he continues with this crusade because while this task may seem impossible to complete (as the critics claim), he is creative and daring enough to try. On a side note, I heard that the David Crowder Band has covered Stevens' song on Seven Swans (A Good Man Is Hard To Find).

Hope I win my free copy, after all the mental anguish I have had to endure in my 25 years on this earth.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Embracing the 'Other'

How can I create space for ‘the other’? I’m currently reading Exclusion & Embrace by Volf and his writing has made me reassess this question. How can I live out the concept of “you are not only you; others belong to you too?” How do I, or we as a society, construct a dichotomy of “them” and “us?” Can we boil the problem down to an equation: we are moral and civilized; they are the wicked barbarians? Who are the “we” and “they” in this statement?

Without rehashing our shameful history, barbaric conquest, colonization, and enslavement of non-Europeans legitimized the myth of “spreading the light of civilization.” It becomes ironic how the undeniable progress of inclusion fed off the practice of exclusion. But if we level all boundaries that lead to inclusion, does that mean we create disorder? The absence of boundaries creates nonorder, which is not the end of exclusion. In essence it seizes to cultivate life no more. So as Volf says, “A consistent pursuit of inclusion places one before the impossible choice between a chaos without boundaries and oppression with them.”

I’m faced with this simple drawing from a child this morning. But this is not an image conjured up by an imaginative youngster; rather, this picture was drawn with simple crayons and paper depicting the horrific acts of the genocide seen through the eyes of a Sudanese child. The power of exclusion is all too real for these people. But do I respond by excluding their attackers? Granted, I know the Janjaweed’s injustice is great and needs to be stopped. I am not trying to justify their act by any means. But could I embrace one of them? That is what I’m trying to understand this morning.